Cape Island Becomes the 91st Certified Community Wildlife Habitat in the Nation
CAPE MAY, NJ – Leading a nationwide trend in community concern for habitat loss, Cape Island has been officially designated a Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) with the help of New Jersey Audubon. Cape Island, comprising Cape May, Township of Lower, Cape May Point and West Cape May, is the 91st community in the country to receive this honor.
A Community Wildlife Habitat project creates multiple habitat areas in backyards, schoolyards, corporate properties, community gardens, parkland and other spaces. It took five years and a tremendous amount of hard work within the four communities of Cape Island to achieve this notable distinction. Their hard work includes certifying more than 150 properties within the community.
NWF commends the dedicated residents of Cape Island and New Jersey Audubon for their wildlife conservation efforts and for coming together for a common purpose - to create a community where people and wildlife can flourish. Cape Island joins High Bridge and Montclair as the only three communities in New Jersey with the designation.
At a time when communities are faced with the problem of losing habitat to development, Cape Island stands out as a model for other communities to emulate. The knowledge and inspiration that this project has generated will lead Cape Island residents and visitors to take better care of their natural world.
“There are few more rewarding ways to stay connected to nature right outside your door than by providing a home for wildlife in our cities – whether it’s at home, or in schools, businesses, or parks,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, as he toured Cape Island today.
“This certification is especially exciting, as Cape Island plays an invaluable role for wildlife like migratory birds, who are particularly at-risk from changes in their ecosystems and will surely benefit from this new Community Wildlife Habitat,” he added.
Certifying an area like Cape Island is important now more than ever. Southern New Jersey is a critical area to preserve for wildlife like migratory birds and monarch butterflies, the latter of which has experienced declining populations in recent years. Cape Island is home to New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory and the Nature Center of Cape May, both of which provide extensive programming about migrating birds and other animals.
“Each year, 15,000 acres of New Jersey are converted from agricultural or forest lands for other uses,” said Eric Stiles, president & CEO, New Jersey Audubon. “Unfortunately, conventional development substantially reduces the benefit of these lands for native wildlife. That is why we have worked so closely with NWF and the Cape Island community to achieve this certification. Together, we have created more habitat and we have established a road map for other New Jersey communities to follow. This is a terrific first step in what will be decades of work to generate NWF certifications statewide. New Jersey Audubon is proud to play a key role.”
The Community Wildlife Habitat project is part of NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program. These projects benefit the entire community of plants, wildlife, and people through the creation of sustainable landscapes that require little or no pesticides, fertilizers, and excess watering. These landscapes help keep water and air resources clean. They are healthier for people and the environment, and are less resource-dependent than conventional landscapes. Habitat landscapes can serve to beautify our urban areas and give residents pride in their neighborhoods.
Since 1973, NWF has provided millions of people with the basic guidelines for making their landscapes more wildlife-friendly. For more information, please go to: www.nwf.org/garden.
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